STEPHENVILLE — When the Journeyperson Mentorship program was introduced to some employers and tradespeople at the Holiday Inn in Stephenville on Thursday, it was welcomed but did garner some criticism.
Bill Kitchen of Codroy Valley said while he thinks the new program is on the right track, there are some things that need to be worked on.
“The problem in this province is that we don’t really have skilled trades. The reason for that is government has broken down the journeymen’s into piecemeal jobs,” he said.
Kitchen said there was a time when a carpenter could build a house, but today it takes 14 people to do so. There’s the roofer, the painter/plasterer, the plumber — and the list goes on.
There is now no need for a journeyperson to know it all, he said, as the minimum can be paid to a person who is only doing a particular job instead of paying a journeyperson, who could do most everything.
The Journeyperson Mentorship program is an initiative of the Department of Advanced Education and Skills and is targeted at provincial industry employers as a primary stakeholder in the apprenticeship and certification process.
Journeypersons serve as mentors to apprentices in the on-the-job transfer of technical knowledge, trade skills and workplace behaviour. This program will assist in financing a mentor for eligible employers to support them in the hiring of apprentices in the same trade area.
There are a total of 33 eligible provincially-recognized trades. Journeyperson mentors may be tradespeople who either do not wish (or may no longer be able) to endure the continuous physical requirements of the trade, such as workers who are retired or are preparing to retire.
Kitchen doesn’t believe in trying to get retired persons back as mentors.
“They shouldn’t be trying to get older people back into the workforce, but instead hire people in their late 50s or early 60s who are tired and wore out but still have to work up to age 65 because they don’t have a pension to rely on,” he said.
Kitchen did say it’s a good program and a good start, but also feels more has to be done with the high school program for entry-level skills.
Cyril McCann, a journeyman mechanic and the owner of McCann’s Service Ltd. in Stephenville, said the program sounds good from what he’s heard.
“I could certainly be a mentor, and it’s something I’ll consider, since I’m turning 60 years of age this year,” he said.
McCann said, during the years, he has trained a half dozen or more mechanics and he wouldn’t mind training some more.
A similar public information session was held at the Greenwood Inn in Corner Brook on Thursday evening and another is taking place today from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the same location.